Chicago is a city rich in culture, history, and entertainment. It has been called the “Windy City” for its gusty breezes coming off Lake Michigan and is known for its bustling skyline and iconic buildings like the Willis Tower and Cloud Gate. The town is a major hub for technology companies and a major transportation center with two airports: O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Midway International Airport (MDW). It's also well known for sports teams like the Bulls, Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, Fire, and Sky.
For people looking for extraordinary event spaces, particularly conference venues, Chicago offers plenty of options. Unusual conference venues provide lots of advantages over traditional ones, one of which is their unique atmosphere. There are also plenty of opportunities for attendees to explore the city’s nightlife and entertainment options outside of their event agenda. From cosplay conventions to tech summits, there's no shortage of interesting occasions to attend.
It's no wonder why so many businesses turn towards Chicago when choosing a destination for their conferences—it offers one-of-a-kind experiences, unlike any other place on earth.
Unusual Conference Options in Chicago
A catering service should be able to come up with creative and interesting dishes that fit the theme of the event. For example, for a conference about space exploration, a caterer could offer astronaut-themed treats such as freeze-dried ice cream or cosmic cupcakes. The presentation may also be unique, from stylish food carts to clear presentation displays with LED lights.
Live music is great for generating memorable moments during speeches or talks, as well as during networking breaks or cocktail parties. Musicians can be individual artists or full bands playing various styles of music, ranging from jazz to pop rock, according to the mood of the event. If you’re getting a DJ, it’s crucial to hire experts who can create an uplifting atmosphere while paying attention to guests’ preferences and feedback during their performance.
Having skilled videographers can help capture precious memories and easily distribute them afterward in digital format (email, social media). A good videographer understands how to capture moments without disrupting key activities like talks or networking sessions by using wireless microphones or discreet cameras at different locations around the venue. Quality equipment is also essential to ensure high-quality filming that shows off all details in good lighting conditions.
A reliable florist will ensure all arrangements remain fresh throughout an event and can provide quick replacements if needed. The flower vendor should have a comprehensive selection of unique plant and floral arrangements that will fit various themes and color palettes.
Unusual Conference Vendors in Chicago
- Hearty Boys Caterers
Hearty Boys Caterers understand corporate catering is a delicate balancing act between tantalizing taste, creative recipes, and timing. Founded by Chefs Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, the team makes sure that the food not only looks great but is also hearty enough to satisfy everyone's hunger. They pride themselves on providing imaginative and trend-setting meals for weddings, corporate events, social events, and more.
- Cielito Lindo Family Folk Music
Cielito Lindo is a renowned family mariachi group that brings to life the traditional melodies and rhythms of Mexico. Their impressive instrumental lineup consists of guitarron, trumpet, guitar, and vihuela complemented by passionate voices singing bolero, ranchera, cumbia, huapango, and son. The ensemble has been privileged to perform its music at more than 100 events and weddings across Illinois since its formation. Whenever they take the stage, it is always a notable experience as they fill the air with soulful harmonies that bring traditional Mexican culture to life.
- Video One Productions
For more than three decades, Video One Productions has been providing expert video editing and motion graphics production services to businesses and individuals alike. The team specializes in all forms of business video production, such as event videos, drone videography, training videos, marketing videos, live-streaming video, interviews, presentations, and other related video content. These experts strive to provide exceptional service with a focus on creativity and quality.
Pros and Cons of Unusual Conferences in Chicago
If you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary, Chicago has several unique and unusual conference venues that will make your event stand out. However, there are also a few things to keep in mind before booking an unconventional space. Here are some pros and cons to remember:
- From chic coworking spaces to refurbished industrial warehouses, event organizers have plenty of offbeat venue options to choose from.
- By hosting an unusual conference in Chicago, guests can explore the city’s rich history and culture, learn about its diverse offerings, and meet people from all over the world.
- After the day's events have concluded, patrons can take advantage of Chicago's vibrant nightlife with clubs, live music venues, bars, restaurants, theaters, and more.
- Due to its location in The Great Lakes region, Chicago is prone to unpredictable weather patterns that may disrupt travel plans or outdoor events.
- Getting around a large city like Chicago can be difficult without access to public transportation or car rental services. Taxis and Uber are available but may be expensive depending on your destination.
- Limited time for sightseeing: With an abundance of activities and lectures at conferences, attendees may struggle to find the time to take in local attractions and explore their surroundings.
Tips on How to Organize Unusual Conferences in Chicago
If you're planning an unconventional conference, there are a few things you'll need to take into account to make sure it goes off without a hitch:
- Research venues in advance: Make sure to book a venue that can accommodate the size of your event, as well as any specialized needs like a special stage or audiovisual equipment. Additionally, research the area surrounding the spot to ensure it’s easily accessible for attendees and certify there are plenty of nearby options for food and beverage.
- Invest in good marketing: Create an effective marketing plan that includes both digital and traditional media outlets such as social media, print advertising, radio, etc. Develop eye-catching visuals and compelling messaging to draw attention from potential attendees.
- Choose entertaining speakers: Before booking speakers for your conference, do your homework. Investigate their backgrounds and research their speaking styles to ensure they will keep the audience engaged and entertained. Also, consider having breakout sessions featuring multiple speakers so there will be something for everyone attending the conference.
- Prepare food and beverages with care: Select catering companies with a proven record of providing quality meals that are both tasty and aesthetically pleasing—some form of finger foods like sandwiches or snacks is always a great choice! Additionally, pay attention to dietary restrictions and provide vegan/vegetarian options if needed. Make sure there is enough variety in beverages (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic) to please all guests.
Famous Locations in Chicago
- The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Although the current building was established in 1999, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum traces its roots to 1857. The museum focuses on the wildlife of the Chicago region and houses an abundance of butterflies—over 1,000 to be exact. It has over 15 exhibits that the whole family can enjoy. The exhibits change seasonally, so there's always something new to see and learn. Plus, the museum offers a variety of programs for all ages—from kids' camps to adult workshops.
- American Writers Museum
The American Writers Museum holds more than four centuries of American writing from every genre, including antique typewriters, a mesmerizing Word Waterfall display, and an interactive Surprise Bookshelf with sounds, smells, videos, and dioramas to engage visitors. Rotating art exhibits can be viewed from multiple angles in the space as readings are regularly held to inspire innovation. Not only will guests gain a greater appreciation for reading and writing, but they will also appreciate the immersive experiences that make this museum unlike any other.
- Shedd Aquarium
Situated on the coast of Lake Michigan, the Aquarium is renowned as one of the best in the world. It houses a wide variety of aquatic creatures, from marine mammals such as whales and dolphins to smaller fish, reptiles, and invertebrates like turtles and snails. Visitors can partake in interactive activities such as VIP animal encounters, touch tanks, shows, and walkthrough tunnels that allow them to explore the underwater world intimately. Here, one can come face to face with some of nature's most magical creatures and learn about their habitats, behaviors, and much more.